Best Background Check Sites

Thorough screening at affordable prices

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Hiring the right candidate or finding the perfect tenant not only provides peace of mind, but it can save money in the long run. To help mitigate the risk of hiring the wrong candidate or the wrong tenant moving in, conduct a background check using one of our best background check sites. Background checks usually include criminal history, credit report, education, employment history, previous addresses, and personal and professional reference checks. 

We reviewed 22 different background check sites to determine the best options available. The reports should come relatively quickly, have a good reputation, and be Fair Credit Reporting Act-compliant (FCRA) if it is for employment. To determine a company’s reputation, we looked at real, unbiased reviews from actual customers rather than testimonials.

The Best Background Check Sites for 2021

Best Overall : First Advantage


First Advantage

First Advantage

First Advantage is the best overall background check site because results are quick, and it offers international background checks. The company manually reaches out to candidates if they need additional information, so you don’t have to contact them yourself.

Pros
  • Most background check results clear in less than 24 hours

  • Offers international background checks

  • Some results are instant

Cons
  • Candidates complain about redundant requests for information

  • Common names and aliases delay results significantly

  • If the candidate has employment gaps, they must still account for it on the application

Providing background checks in over 200 countries, First Advantage offers services for small businesses and international organizations. It’s the best background check site because most results come back in less than 24 hours, while some are instant. It offers drug testing and can even order fingerprint-based background checks from the FBI. 

Background checks typically come back within minutes, but that timing can be significantly longer depending on the country or county. Starting at $20 and continuing to over $105, background checks can include the following, depending on the package you select:

 Select  Choice  Plus Premium 
 Starting at $20  Starting at $56  Starting at $90  Starting at $105
Social Security Number Verification Everything in Select Everything in Choice Everything in Plus
County Courthouse Criminal Search Sex Offender Registry Search Education Verification Reference Check
National Criminal Records Search Global Sanctions Employment Verification Professional License Verification
    Driver's License Check Credit Report
      Federal Records Criminal Search
  • National criminal reports from both state and national databases
  • Full credit report from TransUnion
  • Name and address verification
  • Social Security number and date of birth verification
  • Fraud alerts
  • Adverse media search across 700 U.S.-based newspapers, magazines, and journals
  • Sex offender registry search
  • Global sanctions
  • Education verification
  • Executive background screening
  • Social media search
  • Criminal records watch
  • Driving records monitoring
  • Driver's license check
  • Reference check
  • Professional license verification
  • Federal records criminal search

For enterprise and international organizations, contact First Advantage for a custom quote. Otherwise, mid-level and smaller organizations have an option to choose packages Select, Choice, Plus, or Premium.

Best Value : Rentberry


Rentberry

Rentberry

We chose Rentberry as the best value background check site because it offers both a credit report and background check for a low price paid by the tenant; it’s free for landlords. The comprehensive report is available immediately online, helping ideal tenants move in quickly.

Pros
  • Free for landlords

  • Instant access to results

  • 100% online—no paperwork necessary

Cons
  • Credit report will never show evictions if the tenant moved before the court date

  • Prospective tenants still pay for the report if they’re not chosen

  • Collections on the credit report aren’t detailed

Rentberry background checks are only available in the U.S., but landlords can list properties worldwide. This is the best value background check site because it doesn’t cost a landlord anything to use, and they can list properties to rent at no cost, making it an attractive option whether the landlords are new or seasoned rental property owners

Once a potential tenant locates a property and wants to apply to rent it, they fill out an online application and pay $19.99. This covers both the background check and the credit report, which is instantly available to the tenant and landlord.

Both the background check and credit report use Experian. The credit check is a soft pull, so it won’t negatively impact a tenant’s credit score. It verifies the tenant’s identity, collections, credit score, public records, creditworthiness, rental history, and employment background. The background check looks at state and national databases, driving and civil records, and criminal history records. 

After selecting a tenant, landlords can send an offer electronically and e-sign rental agreements. Tenants can even make online rental payments.

Best for Detailed Reporting : GoodHire


GoodHire

 GoodHire

While you’ll pay more to hire a good candidate, GoodHire offers one of the most comprehensive background checks we reviewed. It provides the standard criminal background check, but you can also purchase additional reports to include data such as credit history, education and employment verification, and healthcare sanctions.

Pros
  • Identity verification is instant

  • Ongoing Alerts add-on allows monthly monitoring

  • Option to purchase healthcare sanction reports

Cons
  • Some states and counties require additional pricing for complexity and time

  • To access more comprehensive reports, you must pay more

  • You cannot purchase individual add-ons without buying a background check

GoodHire provides the most detailed reporting amongst all background check services—access comprehensive reports like federal, state, and global courts, plus add-on reports such as healthcare sanctions, professional license verification, and reference checks. It launched in 2013 and works exclusively with employers and candidates.

Packages offered are Basic, Standard, and Premium checks. These packages cost $29.99, $54.99, and $79.99, respectively, plus a one-time setup fee. 

Social Security number trace and identity verification are instantaneous, while criminal record searches take one to three business days. Civil records searches take one to seven business days. Available reports include:

  • County criminal court search ($14.99 + add-on per alias)
  • Domestic watch list search
  • Drug screening—four- and five-panel ($59.99 add-on)
  • Drug screening—eight-panel + MQL and 10-panel ($74.99 add-on)
  • Employment credit report ($14.99 add-on)
  • Education verification ($14.99 add-on)
  • Employment verification ($14.99 add-on)
  • Federal bankruptcy search ($19.99 add-on)
  • Federal civil court search ($19.99 add-on)
  • Federal criminal court search ($14.99 add-on)
  • Global watch list search ($14.99 add-on)
  • Healthcare sanctions search—OIG/SAM ($4.99/each add-on)
  • Healthcare sanctions search—Level 1 ($5.99/each add-on)
  • Healthcare sanctions search—Level 2 ($6.99/each add-on)
  • Healthcare sanctions search—Level 3 ($8.99/each add-on)
  • Identity verification ($4.99 add-on)
  • International criminal records search (Add-on cost varies by country)
  • International education verification for U.S. residents ($59.99 add-on)
  • International employment verification for U.S. residents ($53.99 add-on)
  • Lower civil court records search seven and 10 years ($34.99 or $44.99 add-on per candidate)
  • Motor vehicle records search ($14.99 add-on)
  • Nationwide criminal databases search ($9.99 add-on per alias)
  • Nationwide criminal databases search—ongoing alerts ($2.50 add-on per employee per month)
  • Professional license verification ($14.99/each add-on)
  • Professional reference check ($14.99 add-on)
  • Sex offender registry search
  • Statewide criminal records search ($14.99 add-on plus state fees)
  • Social Security number trace
  • Upper civil court records search seven and 10 years ($34.99 or $44.99 add-on per candidate)

If you plan on running more than 25 background checks per year, GoodHire can give a custom quote with reduced pricing.

Best for Employers : Checkr


Checkr

Checkr

Aside from its rave reviews from both candidates and employers, Checkr is the best background check company for employers because it’s easy to use. Invite up to 25 candidates in a single go, and access simple reports to make hiring decisions quickly.

Pros
  • Mass-invite candidates by email to fill out a background check application

  • Easy-to-navigate user interface (UI)

  • Positive Adjudication Matrix (PAM) erases inconsistencies in court record terminology

Cons
  • Some background checks can take around three weeks due to delays in county court searches

  • If a candidate uses an alias or has a common name, results may take longer

  • Fees can vary depending on the county

Checkr launched in 2014 and has offices in both Denver and San Francisco. It’s the best background check site for employers because you can bulk-invite candidates and simplify court jargon all in one easy-to-use interface. With over 400 employees, Checkr works solely to provide background checks to employers. It also has some of the best reviews across all of the background check sites we examined.

With no consistency across county and state databases, PAM technology helps disseminate terminology, so human resource representatives don’t have to spend much time deciphering results. 

Pricing starts at $21 per background check, although higher volume may offer better pricing. Around 85% of Checkr’s background checks come back within 24 hours, allowing employers can make hiring decisions quickly.  

Background checks include the following reports:

  • National, county, federal, and state criminal records check
  • Verification of employment
  • Personal and professional reference checks
  • National and international education verification
  • County and federal civil records search
  • Driver screening
  • Sex offender registry search
  • Global watchlist search
  • Social Security number trace
  • Address history
  • Motor vehicle record search
  • Sanctions/adverse action searches using Fraud Abuse Control Information System (FACIS) screens
  • Continuous monitoring of active candidates and employees

Best for Landlords : Apartments.com


Apartments.com

In 2018, Apartments.com owner, CoStar Group, purchased Cozy, and effective July 28, 2021, all eligible accounts were moved over to the Apartments.com platform. We picked Apartments.com as the best background check site for landlords because the background check cost is included in the renter's application fee, and tenants can make online rent payments that are directly deposited into their landlord's account.

Pros
  • Free for landlords—tenants pay for background checks

  • 40 million potential renters on Apartments.com

  • Tenants can set up automatic rent payments

Cons
  • Some Cozy users have complained that Apartments.com is less user-friendly and that tenant applications are bare bones

  • Commercial properties cannot be managed on Apartments.com

Apartments.com is one of the easiest background check sites for landlords because it's all done online and at no cost to the landlord. Potential tenants pay an application fee of $29 that includes the cost of their credit report and background check. They can also share their screening reports with up to 10 potential landlords for 30 days without incurring additional fees.

Apartments.com uses TransUnion for the credit report and background check, providing a ResidentScore that considers a potential tenant's payment history, eviction record, and comprehensive credit history. The credit report is a soft pull, so it won't impact a potential tenant's score.

The background check report includes address and employment history and a criminal report compiled by searching national databases and county court records.

Once landlords have selected a tenant, they can create an online lease agreement that the tenant can also sign online. Tenants can then set up automatic rent payments that are deposited directly into the landlord's bank account.

Best for Instant Results : Intelius


Intelius

Intelius

If you’re looking for instant background check results, Intelius provides its report in mere minutes. Compared to other background check sites we reviewed, this is by far the fastest available.

Pros
  • Receive instant access to the background check report

  • Report includes education history

  • Multiple packages available depending on the records you need

Cons
  • Results may not be as accurate

  • You’re automatically enrolled in a monthly subscription when you purchase a report

  • It’s not FCRA-compliant

While you can’t use it for tenancy, insurance, employment, or credit because it’s not FCRA-compliant, Intelius can give you instant insight into someone’s criminal background. Some people use this to look into potential business partners or even a love interest. It’s the best background check site if you want instant results—your report is available immediately.

You don’t need a Social Security number to access the report, but you’ll need the person’s name, city, and state. For a more accurate report, Intelius will ask questions to help further narrow down results, such as, “Is this person over 30?” and, “Has this person ever lived in Madison, Wisconsin?” You may have a hard time finding the right person if you don’t know much about them or if they have a common name. 

Subscription packages start at $24.86 per month for unlimited searches, and you cannot purchase a standalone background check. However, Intelius does offer a $1.99 trial subscription then $29.63 per month after that. If you don’t want to continue the trial or subscription, you can cancel online or by calling 888-245-1655.  

An Intelius background check includes:

  • State and local criminal records
  • Date of birth
  • Education history
  • Employment history
  • Phone numbers
  • Address history
  • Relatives
  • Arrest records
  • Court records
  • Social media profiles
  • Email addresses
  • Nearby sex offenders

Final Verdict

Background check sites help you find the best candidates and tenants by identifying high-risk criminal records and credit history. It can also verify past employment, education, and personal and professional references. 

Most background check results come in days, but the most comprehensive reports can take weeks, particularly with international records. You’ll also pay more for these background checks, but it can save money in the long run. 

We recommend First Advantage for your background check needs because it’s fast, hands-off, and offers international checks. 

Compare Providers

Background Check Site Why We Picked It Key Benefit
First Advantage Best Overall Results in less than 24 hours
Rentberry Best Value It costs tenants just $19.99 and is free for landlords
GoodHire Best for Detailed Reporting Offers the most comprehensive background check
Checkr Best for Employers Employers give great reviews and boast its easy-to-use platform
Apartments.com Best for Landlords Tenant's application fee covers the report cost and tenants pay rent online
Intelius Best for Instant Results Access background report in minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Most Accurate Background Check Website?

While there is no accuracy measurement across background check sites, it’s important to choose a reputable provider. Typically, this comes in the form of FCRA compliance

The accuracy of background checks can also depend on whether or not the candidate has used an alias. However, most background check sites can add aliases. In cases of common names or foreign involvement, background check providers may need to manually review information, which can add to the cost. 

What Shows up on a Background Check?

The employer determines what information they need to make a hiring decision. They may ask for driving history, employment history, education, criminal records, and credit history. Pending criminal charges may show up, although some states, like Kentucky, won’t ever show pending charges. 

Civil orders, such as a restraining order, won’t usually show up on a background check. However, if it was in addition to a criminal charge, it may show as an annotation to sentencing. 

What Is a Level 3 Background Check?

A level 3 background check is a standard background check that includes reference checks, criminal history, previous employment, and education. This can also sometimes include drug testing if the company orders it. 

Each level of background check is progressively more involved. For example, level 1 will only check a candidate’s name in local court records, whereas a level 2 background check looks at state and national records. 

Do Candidates Need to Sign a Waiver for a Background Check?

A waiver is necessary to obtain background check information on a candidate in most states. Certain states may have laws specifying what that waiver needs to include. Some even prohibit background checks unless it's a position of trust, so it's important to seek legal counsel to ensure compliance in your region. 

If you're using background check information to determine if someone is hirable, an employer must use an FCRA-compliant background check provider. 

How We Chose the Best Background Check Sites

We looked at 22 of the best background check sites available and narrowed it down to the best six options based on several features and considerations. We considered company reputation, price, ease of use, and how long it takes to receive results. If the report is for employment, we also made sure the company is FCRA compliant.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know." Accessed Sept. 26, 2021.